Does Your Electric That Sounds Best Unplugged Translate?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Bluego1, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    When setting up a guitar I listen very carefully acoustically for buzz, string balance and intonation. After that I address the electric sound.
    No reason to dwell on the acoustic sound too much after the basics are covered. I'm not going to play them acoustically anyway.
     
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  2. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    None of my electric guitars sound "good" unplugged compared to the cheapest, worst acoustic guitar I can imagine. You play unplugged because you can't make noise in the house or because you just can't be bothered to plug in. But it doesn't sound good. My bass is basically silent when unplugged, but wow does it make a big noise when you hook it to an SVT.

    An electric guitar will "sound better" unplugged if it has a thicker strings and higher action, and in general if it's all screwed together just right. But the benefits of that higher action on unplugged tone are mostly lost when you plug in however. So my sig tele right now has ridiculously low action (too low for my taste) - unplugged it sounds like a buzzy mess, frankly. But plugged in it sounds like a real nice tele for the most part (still a bit too much buzz). It is in need of a little setup TLC right now.
     
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  3. Donny Osmond fan

    Donny Osmond fan Tele-Holic

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    My Jazzbox sounds great unpluged.
     
  4. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    ^^^ well, yeah...
     
  5. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Meister

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    This is THE answer. Does it all matter, what does matter? I think so but i cant prove it. Stack the chips in your favor and go forward.
     
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  6. PlainAllman

    PlainAllman Tele-Meister

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    My electrics sound ok unplugged but they sound best when they’re on 11.
     
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  7. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

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    I have no idea if it translates because I never listen to the sound of my electrics unplugged. Why would I? They're electric guitars, and I listen to them plugged into an amp. I have zero interest in how they sound acoustically. I couldn't care less. If they were hollow bodies, then it might be different. But, I don't currently own any hollowbody electrics. So, it makes no difference at all to me.
     
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  8. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Meister

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    I used to think so too, but I am more doubtful now.

    If it was so simple, then every semi-hollow electric should be considered having a better tone than every solid body, for its unplugged resonance is better...

    Moreover, IMO the special resonance quality that some solid bodies have when amplified can also come from the pickups being slightly microphonic: because of this they vibrate internally and transmit a lot of the wood vibration.
    An interesting experiment I did some time ago was to replace the surgical rubber mounting tubes on the bridge PU of my Tele with very low tension springs: with the latter the guitar was resonating more when plugged in, the pickup seemed to amplify the vibrations of the instrument more, almost like a piezo hidden in the cavity. But then it was too much and messy as soon as I turned the volume up.

    My believe now is you cannot consider an electric guitar alone as an instrument, since it is made to work in conjunction with an amp: the instrument is the whole guitar + amp (and everything in between), and shall thus be judged as a whole.

    Of course the way a solidbody « sounds » when unplugged translates in how it sounds once amplified, but it seems to me hard to judge if it’s going to be a good one or a not so good one without plugging in.
    But you can definitely judge how confortable it is to play though.
     
  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    A loud acoustically resonant solid body electric will sound more a certain way plugged in, than will a less resonant but otherwise the same guitar, which will sound more another way.

    Whether you prefer a more resonant guitar plugged in is personal taste in your electric guitar.
    Neither is better, but they are different.
    I like some range of tone and response from my electrics, but in a pretty narrow range.
    Lately I like lighter softer alder body electrics with more resonance and a less sharp attack.
    Used to hate that though, always had to have as much cut and snap to the attack as possible.

    If I like the plugged in sound I like playing unplugged because it's a good guitar.
    Not because it sounds kinda like an acoustic guitar.
     
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  10. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    I've never really paid attention one way or the other. I can make any electric guitar sound good IME, even if it doesn't at first. It's not that hard. Strings, setup, pots, caps, pickups, e.q., gain, speakers, amp location, mic location. There aren't that many "moving" parts to understand, and most of them are just common sense.

    A lot of playing in my life has been on unplugged electrics. It's probably no small part of why I developed such a wide right hand dynamic range in my playing, and tend to occupy the Pete Townshend range, more often than most. (This has a huge effect on how I choose and set up my pickups and electronics, my guitars, and my amps.) But I never had a preference for any one over any other based on "acoustic" qualities. I did, however, appreciate Fenders for their lack of fragility. I kept some of them out and next to my bed or couch for years at a time, without worry of what might happen to the guitar if it fell over.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
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  11. 6String69

    6String69 Tele-Meister

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    My Jazzmaster is so loud that I don’t have to plug it in.
     
  12. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire

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    What I gravitate towards are resonant guitars. These tend to be light, stiff and mechanically tight guitars that you can feel when playing. I have never liked an acoustically dead sounding/feeling guitar. I don’t care about how sustain because I play loud enough that I never think about it. Played basswood guitars for 30 years and have recently discovered Paulownia which works even better for me. Les Paul once said the perfect guitar would be made from a rail road track. I respectfully disagree Les!
    The three teles I currently own are the best sounding I have ever owned and I couldn’t be happier with them. They were inexpensive to make too!
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
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  13. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Meister

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    Even if there's certainly exceptions, I'd say yes - I agree with that general statement.

    I have several experience going that way, one of them being the sale of my Fender Strat US Std 2012 against my Squier Std Strat 2005 modded to be the spare of my US 2012 (pickups, electronics, nut, saddles, tremolo block, etc...) which proved better sounding plugged and unplugged.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I even made a pickguard swap between the two guitars to be sure, and no way : the Squier stayed the best... So the US went away.:confused:

    But it's me, OK ? :D
     
  14. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

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    If yes, credit the pickups.

    If no, blame the pickups.
     
  15. Chud

    Chud Poster Extraordinaire

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  16. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I think mine is probably on the OK side of things but I totally don't get the play electric unplugged thing.

    Even if it's the best one ever or it's a hollow body my acoustic guitar is right there and sounds a million times better.

    My acoustic is a shorter 24 7/8" scale.. with 12s there is not a whole lot I can do on my Tele that I can't also do on the acoustic. I only run into trouble if I'm trying to practice something that demands using frets above 14 since it doesn't have a cutaway.
     
  17. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Pickups
    Amp circuit
    Speaker

    You hear those 3 things when you plug in an electric guitar.



    Replace your favorite pickup in the liveliest , most resonant, acoustically-loud electric you own with the Melody Maker-ish pickup in the Epiphone Grenada/Gibson ES 120T I posted on the first page.

    First thing you’ll think is “Yeccchhh”.

    Second thing ? Maybe that the cargo is more important than the boat...
     
  18. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I'm in the - who knows? camp.

    I have no idea what they sound like unplugged.

    Why would I?
     
  19. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    Nope.
    My #1 doesn’t sound bad unplugged, but it sure isn’t the best-sounding unplugged (solidbody) electric I own (I’m not counting acoustic-electrics in this discussion)...but my #1 is a monster when plugged in.

    The two best-sounding unplugged solidbodies I own are my Strat and my Dean VX—and both sound great plugged in, as well.
     
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  20. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

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    Two instruments stand out for me as being the best-sounding over the years, and both were/are very lively and resonant unplugged also:

    1) mid-60s Gibson Melody Maker with Leo Quan “Badass” bridge and failed two-humbucker conversion, that I “fixed” by gutting and installing one bridge single coil. Bright and zingy, sustainy and resonant, never shrill and fun to play through almost anything.

    2) 2000-something Squier Bullet Special. Plywood body, stock single humbucker. Gradual tweaks to setup, pickup height—lowered it quite a bit—and string gauge have made the guitar equally fun to play plugged in or unplugged. It looks like a bonehead shred machine but it really sounds great on clean-toned bendy licks. Total happy accident? Maybe.
     
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